Robbing Ron Paul

On the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, it now looks as though Ron Paul will not be nominated from the floor before the presidential ballotting. Had Paul been nominated, he would have been entitled to address the convention in prime time.

How is that news?, you may well ask. After all, weren’t the main stream media (MSM) reporting, back in July, that winning the Nebraska state convention was Paul’s last hope to be nominated? Indeed they were; here, for example, is NBC’s take on the subject:

“According to RNC Rule 40, Paul needs a plurality of delegates from five states for his name to be put forth for nomination at the convention. The Texas Congressman has won a majority of state delegations in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Louisiana. If he is nominated, Paul will be allotted fifteen minutes to deliver a speech at the convention before the first round of balloting.”(1)

“If Paul wins a plurality of delegates in Nebraska this weekend,” NBC continued, “his name will be put forth as a nominee versus Mitt Romney in Tampa.” Contrariwise, “If his team can’t secure enough delegates on Saturday, his longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination is formally dead.”(1)

And Paul did lose in Nebraska, did he not? Indeed he did. However, NBC, and the rest of the MSM, were giving false information. That is because they were omitting Nevada, where Paul supporters had also won the majority of Delegates. Admittedly most of those Delegates were bound to vote for Romney; but that did not prevent them from nominating Paul. That is why, as early as June , I was calling a Paul floor nomination “a likely assumption.”(2)

A week after the Nebraska convention, that new information entered into the MSM, when Ben Swann (anchorman of WXIX FOX 19 in Cincinnati) announced it on his news program, “Reality Check,” and his Facebook page:

  1. For a candidate’s name to be placed into nomination at the RNC you DO need a plurality of delegates from 5 states.
  2. Binding and Non-binding distinctions DO NOT have an affect on nominating a candidates name. If “binding” is allowable by rule, (it is not) it would only pertain to a vote taken on the nomination, not the process of placing a name in nomination.
  3. The Ron Paul campaign HAS the majority of delegates in the following 5 states: Nevada, Maine, Minnesota, Louisana, Iowa.(3)

Sure enough, on August 22 the Nevada delegation announced plans to nominate Paul from the floor. “In our case, you need a majority of the delegation to nominate a candidate,” delegation chairman Wayne Terhune told the press. “We have already done that for Ron Paul from the Nevada delegation. We have signatures from over half of the delegation, and we will be nominating Ron Paul.” (4)

While that news received little attention outside the rEVOLution (the grassroots movement supporting Paul’s candidacy), it must have come as a rude awakening to some who had hoped that the Paul campaign was indeed “formally dead”. But what could they do? The Nevada Delegates were already credentialed, without challenge. So were the openly pro-Paul delegations of Minnesota and Iowa.(5)

That left only two contested states – Louisiana and Maine – where Paul could be stopped before the convention, at either the Committe on Contests or the Credentials Committee. While the circumstances of the two state contests were wildly different, for those opposing Paul’s campaign the outcome had to be the same: to strip him of enough Delegates to cost him his plurality in that state.

Louisiana

Rick Santorum won Louisiana’s state primary (and 10 of the state’s 46 Delegates), while Mitt Romney came in second, (winning 5). At the April caucuses, though, supporters of Ron Paul won four of the six Congressional District caucuses, and 111 of the 180 state convention delegates. “As a result,” reported the media, “under party rules, Paul [was] guaranteed at least 17 of the 46 delegates to the [national] convention”,(6) and possibly all 28 open spots. (The other 3 were reserved for party officials, or “superdelegates”). However, LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere and his Executive Committee were determined to prevent a Paul sweep of the convention; and they had several means to do that.

The day before the convention began, the executive brought in new “supplemental rules”, obliging all national Delegates to be chosen from pre-determined slates, reducing the quorum to 1/3 (to cover a walkout by Paul delegates), and installing Villere as permanent Chair of the convention. The Rules Committee, which like every convention committee had a majority of Paul supporters, rejected both those rules and the chairman who formally proposed them, electing Paul backer Alex Helwig instead. At the convention, though, Villere would not let Helwig speak, and had him arrested and removed from the floor. (Helwig later returned, with broken fingers and walking with a cane).(7)

The delegates responded by electing a new Convention Chairman, state committeeman Henry Herford; when Villere refused to step down, they turned their chairs around, and Herford called the meeting to order from the back of the room. Villere responded having his security forces (off duty policemen) arrest Herford, too, dislocating his prosthetic hip in the process.(8)

The majority elected another chairman and went on to vote in a full slate of Delegates (including 27 for Paul); while a rump convention of some 30 delegates, at the front of the room under Villere’s chairmanship, elected their own slate.(7)

However, Villere and his executive had one more trick up their sleeve. The day before the deadline to certify a delegation to Tampa, the executive certified the rump convention’s picks. But with a twist: the rump convention had left 13 seats vacant for Paul Delegates, as a result of his CD wins; and although those 13 CD Delegates had been elected at the simultaneous majority convention, their elections were not recognized. Instead “the Executive Committee filled the vacancies in the delegation with supporters of Mitt Romney.”(9)

Naturally the Paul forces challenged that delegation. On August 10, the Republican National Committee’s Committee on Contests dismissed the challenge, ruling that the majority convention was illegal under the “supplementary rules”. (10) The Committee also dismissed similar challenges to state delegations, from which Paul Delegates had been excluded, of Massachusetts and Oklahoma.(11)

Some Paul supporters were outraged. For example, campaign adviser Doug Wead blogged that “the Old Guard establishment doesn’t care about cheating, lying, abuse of process, and high-handedness in our Party…. And believe me,“ Wead continued, “we will not sit idly by and watch the establishment run roughshod over Ron Paul’s supporters who were illegally railroaded by the GOP. We will stand up and fight for all of Ron Paul’s delegates and/or alternates in these four states – and we will not back down.”(12)

On August 21, though, the Paul and Romney campaigns reached an agreement. Paul was awarded 17 Delegates from Louisiana – the minimum to which his supporters’ caucus victories entitled him – and, as a bonus, three of the Delegates taken from him in Massachusetts. In return, Paul gave up his plurality of the Louisiana delegation.(13)

Maine

As in Louisiana, Ron Paul’s supporters dominated the Maine state convention in May, filling 20 of 21 Delegate positions up for election. (Governor Paul LePage took the 21st position). Unlike in Louisiana, though, they faced no organized opposition from the state party executive.

However, two Romney supporters – Peter Cianchette, Romney’s campaign manager in the state, and national committeewoman Jan Staples – formally contested the decision, complaining of a multitude of procedural irregularities, from lack of a quorum to non-delegates casting votes. Staples insisted that “the challenge isn’t motivated by her and Cianchette’s support for Romney. Instead, she’s interested in seeing party rules and parliamentary procedures upheld.”  She undermined that claim somewhat, though, by restricting her challenge to Paul supporters only; the only Romney supporter elected – LePage – was exempted. Neither did the two challenge the newly-elected state party executive; for some reason, this allegedly tainted electoral process had tainted only the election of Ron Paul Delegates to the National Convention.(14)

Also differently from Louisiana, the Committee on Contests did not simply dismiss the contest, the way they had dismissed every Delegate challenge by the Paul camp. Instead, on August 10 the Committee decided Cianchette and Staples had not introduced enough evidence to prove their case; but the Maine contest was so significant that it required “more information and a full hearing” before a decision could be rendered.(14) That meant the Maine Delegates had to make arrangements to go to Tampa without knowing if they would be accredited, or even allowed on the convention floor for that matter.

On Thursday, August 23, the Committee on Contests ruled that, as a result of procedural irregularities, the delegation should be split in half: “Ten of Maine’s seats would be kept by delegates elected by Paul’s supporters… Eleven [sic] seats would be filled by new delegates — many of them familiar Republicans — who would presumably support Romney.” Added to the 3 state officials who were superdelegates – all of them Romney supporters, like Staples – that would give Romney a majority of the Maine delegation.(15)

On Friday, the Credentials Committee upheld the Committee on Contests ruling. One consequence was that Governor LePage – an erstwhile Romney supporter – announced that he would not attend the convention, “spending some time with family” instead. “I made it clear, when the challenge was issued, that I felt the Maine delegates selected at the Maine convention should be seated in Tampa,” LePage said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that not all of these delegates will be seated.”(16)

Others used stronger language. Brent Tweed, chairman of the Maine delegation, told the press that Paul supporters feel cheated and abused, and suggested that the underlying motive was a desire by some establishment Republicans to drive Paul’s supporters out of the party. “I feel they have miscalculated,” he added. “This is only going to strengthen our resolve. We are going to get more active in the local Republican committees … and try to change the state Republican party.”(16)

Ashley Ryan, the newly elected national committeewoman from Maine and a Paul supporter, called the decision “a huge slap in the face”,(13) and predicted that it would backfire on the Republicans. “Our party will go from being a big tent with many ideas to a small group at the mercy of a few insiders” if such acts continue, she warned.(17)

Now what?

In the face of all this, Ron Paul’s attitude has seemed somewhat ambivalent. It looks as though is walking a fine line – wanting to be seen by his supporters as standing up to the establishment, yet not wanting to be seen by rank-and-file Republicans as trying to disrupt the party and convention. On the one hand he has been denouncing the GOP establishment to his supporters, accusing it of lying and cheating. On the other, he has kept  open negotiations with that same establishment, while staying, and advising his supporters to stay, ‘respectful’. Above all, he has not once insisted on being nominated.

In short, Paul is doing exactly what he has always done; opposing his party while remaining a part of it. As was said of him in 2008: “Paul has developed a knack for alienating the GOP enough to achieve pariah status, but then not having the guts to go all the way, abandon the party, and really accomplish something.”(18)

This ambivalence runs through and splits the rEVOLution. Some of Paul’s remaining Delegates will heed his advice, and do nothing at the convention that could be seen as disruptive; others, like the Nevada delegation, will try to force a confrontation, nominating Paul whether he wants to be nominated or not. Some of Paul’s supporters, like Tweed, say that the experience only strengthens their resolve to work within and try to change the Republican Party. Others are ready give up on that party entirely:

Many are so disgusted with the national Republican Party that they are vowing to either write-in Congressman Paul’s name on their ballots, or vote for another candidate such as [Libertarian] Gary Johnson in the general election. So-called Ron Paul Republicans are vowing to switch their Party affiliations to either Independent or Libertarian.(11)

It is no coincidence that Johnson was in Tampa this weekend speaking at P.A.U.L.fest, the three-day “alternative convention” sponsored in part by the Libertarian Party.(19)

Romney and his campaign crew seem aware of the danger, and as a result their actions have been similarly ambivalent. On one hand they have been not only robbing Ron Paul of his Delegates, but also pushing through rule changes designed to prevent Paul or anyone else ever repeating his “delegate strategy”.(20) On the other hand, they have taken a number of steps to appease Paul and his supporters, and keep them in the GOP. They will be airing a “video tribute” to Paul put togther by his campaign. They have allowed a couple of Paul’s planks – on auditing the Federal Reserve and establishing a presidential Gold Commission – into the party platform. They have even agreed to let Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (who has endorsed Romney) speak in prime time.(21)

According to Ron Paul, Romney’s people even offered to give him a speaking slot at the convention anyway. There were, however, two conditions: that the Romney camp vet his speech in advance, and that he give Romney a full-fledged endorsement. Naturally, Paul declined. “It wouldn’t be my speech,” he told the New York Times. “That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years.”(22)

Sources

Photo - Ron Paul speaking in St. Charles, Missouri, during his 2012 campaign. Photo by David Carlyon. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

(1) Anthony Terrell, “Ron Paul’s last stand,” First Read, NBC News, July 9, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/09/12642257-ron-pauls-last-stand

(2) George Dance, “Ron Paul’s Delegate Count: Doing the Math,” Nolan Chart, June 20, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.nolanchart.com/article9692-ron-pauls-delegate-count-doing-the-math.html

(3) “Ben Swann: Three Facts About A Candidate’s Name Being Placed Into Nomination at RNC,” Daily Paul, July 16, 2012.Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.dailypaul.com/244870/3-facts-about-a-candidates-name-being-placed-into-nomination-at-rnc

(4)Nevada’s Ron Paul Supporters Won’t Give Up,” HispanicBusiness.com, August 23, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2012/8/23/nevadas_ron_paul_supporters_wont_give.htm

(5) “Liz Halloran, “Romney And GOP Strike Deal With Ron Paul Loyalists Before Convention,” It’s all Politics, NPR, August 22, 2012, Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/08/21/159594780/romney-and-gop-strike-deal-with-ron-paul-loyalists-before-convention

(6) Jonathan Tilove, “Ron Paul supporters dominate Louisiana’s Republican presidential caucuses.” New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 28, 2012, Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/04/ron_paul_supporters_dominate_l.html

(7)LA GOP Convention Madness,” Nolatarian, June 2, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://nolatarian.com/la-gop-convention-madness/

(8) Stephen A. Webster, “Louisiana GOP spirals into chaos as Ron Paul delegates injured, arrested,” The Raw Story, June 4, 2012, Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/04/louisiana-gop-spirals-into-chaos-as-ron-paul-delegates-injured-arrested/

(9)LAGOP Releases Official Roll of Delegates,” LAGOP (Republican Party of Louisiana), July 27, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2010. http://lagop.com/2012/07/lagop-releases-official-roll-of-delegates/

(10) “Louisiana Voters Disenfranchised with Republican National Committee Ruling.” Unconventional Conservative, August 12, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://theunconventionalconservative.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/louisiana-voters-disenfranchised-with-republican-national-committee-ruling/

(11) Kevin Kervick, “GOP Committee on Contests disenfranchises Paul supporters in several states”, Manchester Independent Examiner, Examiner.com, August 15, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-committee-on-contests-disenfranchises-paul-supporters-several-states

(12) Doug Wead, “RNC: Ron Paul delegates not welcome in Tampa,” Doug Wead The Blog, August 14, 2012. Web, Aug. 21, 2012. http://dougwead.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/rnc-ron-paul-delegates-not-welcome-in-tampa/

(13) John Harwood, “Paul and Republican Party Officials Reach Deal on Delegates,” The Caucus, New York Times, August 21, 2012. Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/paul-and-republican-party-officials-reach-deal-on-delegates/

(14) Matthew Stone, “Maine’s GOP delegate dispute to go to full hearing,” Bangor Daily News, August 14, 2012. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2012/08/14/maine-s-gop-delegate-dispute-go-full-hearing/1236626

(15) Kevin Miller, “Half of Maine’s Ron Paul delegates removed.” Waterville Morning Sentinel, August 25, 2012, Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/RNC-announces-new-slate-of-Maine-delegates.html

(16) Kevin Miller, “Paul delegates not seated, LePage to skip convention,” Waterville Morning Sentinel, August 25, 2012, Web, Aug. 26, 2012. http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/paul-delegates-not-seated-lepage-to-skip-convention_2012-08-24.html

(17) Brian Bakst, “Paul says his backers will ‘become the GOP tent’” (Associated Press), August 26, 2012. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jnZQj3orb2a-1g1MZzk98aVaYy4g?docId=34b71a2224a44caba0bb57d2e8072058

(18) George Dance, “Ron Paul’s No-Third-Party Deals,” Nolan Chart, November 14, 2008. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.nolanchart.com/article5467-ron-pauls-nothirdparty-deals.html

(19)Libertarians Rally for Libertarians rally for Ron PaulPittsburgh Post-Gazette,” GD’s Political Animal, August 26, 2012. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://gdspoliticalanimal.blogspot.ca/2012/08/libertarians-rally-for-ron-paul.html

(20) Grace Wyler, “There Was Major Drama At The GOP Convention Friday, And It Ended With John Sununu Fleeing The Building,” Business Insider, August 25, 2012. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/ron-paul-romney-sununu-republican-convention-delegates-fight-tampa-florida-2012-8

(21) Chris Christie, “Ron Paul to get video tribute at GOP convention,” On Politics, USA Today, Aug. 24, 2012. [link edited for length]

(22) John Harwood, “Libertarian Legion Stands Ready to Accept Torch From Paul,” Election 2012, New York Times, August 25, 2012. Web, Aug. 27, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/us/politics/ron-paul-passing-torch-to-a-libertarian-legion.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&ref=politics



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